Sorting in Kinder (a 3 Act)

My kindergarten collaborator, Stacy and I recently attended a 2 day workshop with Graham Fletcher and it re-ignited our passion for 3 act tasks/lessons.  She’s made it her goal to collaborate with me and create one task per topic.  I happily accept her challenge and told her, “GAME ON!”

The most recent topic in her curriculum was sorting.  This is a skill that we all take for granted.  We sort our trash into various recycling bins.  We sort through mail.  We sort our clothes while folding laundry.   How do we get little ones to understand how things are alike and yet different?

She already uses the “Which One Doesn’t Belong” routine and asks students “how would you sort these?” However, how can we bring this standard (K.MD.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the number of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.) to life in the form of a 3 act task?

Act 1

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As always we started with a notice and wonder routine.

Notice –

• I saw crayons
• Math Wizard said “clean up”
• He’s drawing a rainbow and boxes
• Crayons are everywhere
• I see markers
• I heard the Math Wizard
• She has a son ?!?!
• He needs to pick up his stuff before school
• It must be night time because it’s dark

Wonder –

• Was he cleaning up to go to bed?
• Was he cleaning up before dinner?
• Was he cleaning up because he was done?
• Does he have  a brother or a sister?

Act 2

I was really curious how Mrs Z was going to push their thinking beyond their notice and wonder.  She inquired further.  She showed the Act 2 picture.

“What would you do with that stuff?  What if Mrs Z said ‘clean up’? What would you do with it?  Where would you put the stuff?”

The students thought about her questions for a moment and slowly put their hands up.  One student piped up with “I’d put the pencils away”.   And Mrs Z next asked, “How?”

“The markers go together. The pencils go together and the crayons go together.”

“I WOULD ORGANIZE IT!”—>And there it was.  Just the answer we were looking for.  And that is a big word for this student.

And so we discussed how they would sort them.  Some students said by size.  Some students said by color.  One student said he’s organize them between caps and no caps (Markers have caps on them versus no caps.)

Usually at this part of the lesson, the students do some kind of calculations or reason out their answer.  How could they be expected to sort from a picture?   That’s where Mrs. Z comes in with her bag of tricks. Prior to the lesson, she made bags of pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.  Each group would be showing all the different ways to sort their bags.  Oh–let the games begin!

Mrs Z and I wandered around the room eager to see what the groups would do.  She informed me that they don’t work in groups too often, so she was curious of how this would go down.

Here’s one group’s explanation.

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Here’s another groups explanation.

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At one point, we noticed that a group put all their pencils together.  We asked them how they could further sort this group.

Just when I thought we were pretty much done, Mrs Z runs around a throws unifix cubes on to their tables.  The kiddos didn’t bat an eyelash and just incorporated them into their categories.  Here’s one groups way of organizing.  What do you notice about the picture?

Act 3

Final thoughts….

• Having the students work in cooperative groups for this lesson gave us opportunity to see which roles the students would fall into.  You can see who lead the pack and who followed along.
• Student usually come up with more answers than you can anticipate, but we are never disappointed.
• I love the hands-on exploration part.  We got to see how they were organizing their items.

Until next time,

Kristen